A2 ~ D6 (3 Octaves, 2 notes and 1 semitone)
E3 ~ D4/Eb4
- Second strongest vocalist in Teen Top
- Able to bring down support to E3
- Support can be present up to Eb4
- Able to choose when to be stylistic to an extent
- Improvement has been heard in his overall approach throughout the years
- Pitch is mostly accurate when singing
- Better placement can be present in his mixed voice
- Slower vocal runs can be smooth to an extent
- Sings with a raised larynx throughout most of his range
- Airiness in tone often present, causing his larynx to raise
- Larynx raises above Eb4
- Often tries to emulate other people in his style, not using his true voice
- Notes below E3 often become thin, airy and don’t project at all
- Tightness in his throat/jaw anywhere above E4 is present
- Often pushes his voice out with his throat when singing higher
- Falsetto is airy and transitions can be sloppy
- Throat tension often present
- Often sings with his voice placed in his nose
- Lower register: His lower range is mostly airy and lacks tone, but he does have the ability to bring tone down to Bb2/B2. There’s a tendency to sing with airiness throughout his range and he’s only been able to show support consistently down to E3.
- Mixed register: His mixed voice is one that lacks openness and fulness. He often sings with a stylistic tight throat sound but can also use better placement in his mixed when he wishes to, but still is unable to show true support anywhere above Eb4.
- Upper register: He doesn’t often sing in his falsetto, but when he does there’s a huge gap in tone and color. Airiness becomes even more prominent in this register, stability and support become fragile.
When it comes to vocal runs, Niel’s ability to separate and sing each note with clarity isn’t completely neglected. Although drawing influences from many R&B artists in his singing style, Niel goes more for a gritty approach in his singing and focuses more on raspiness than really adding runs on every song he sings. Thus, it’s somewhat hard to determine just how developed his sense of control for melismas is, since he doesn’t often sing runs in his vocal performances. Nonetheless, in rare examples in which he has sung runs, there’s a care for pitch and separation of tone for slower tempo runs, in which he’s able to sing more or less on the center of the pitch without sliding too much into each single note or losing his control, as heard in “Don’t Wanna Try” and “내 마음의 보석상“.
Debuting in 2010 as the main vocalist of Teen Top, much like its name, Niel was one of the youngest teen idols at the time of his debut. Throughout the years, he has shown good improvement in certain areas of his voice but has more or less stuck with the same style of singing he favored all these years. His natural tone is bright and light, leaning towards a light lyric tenor in fach. He generally sings with a raspy tone but the few times he’s shown his real voice, he still retains a youthful and young boyish tone to his voice.
The lower part of his chest voice is one that’s often neglected not only in development but in the overall repertoire of songs performed by Teen Top. Generally singing in a slightly higher range, Niel has proven from time to time that he isn’t very comfortable singing very low and even on a reasonably higher end of a tenor’s chest voice, he still is unable to keep complete support in his voice. Down to E3, Niel has shown that he’s able to control his voice quite well and show support, such as in “뭐라고 딱 꼬집어 얘기할 수 없어요” and “누이.” Below E3, however, he often has the tendency to let go of the full stretch of his vocal cords and allow an opening in between them, where air comes through and his voice becomes quieter and loses support, such as the Eb3’s in “아침부터 아침까지“, B2’s in “짝사랑“, Bb2’s in “Missing (쉽지 않아)” and A2’s in “A Whole New World.”
His mixed voice is where his voice becomes trickier. Support wise, there’s been very good improvement in utilizing less of a stylistic approach in his voice throughout the years and more noticeably in 2013/2014 he’s shown a few moments of better vocal cord connection and better placement in his mixed voice. However, anywhere above Eb4 seems to still be an issue for him technically. The few times he’s shown better support in his mix were notes around Eb4 or lower, such as the Eb4 in “널 그리며“. As a tenor, Niel is unable to sing with proper technique above his first passaggio and has yet to figure out how to truly support his higher range. He generally opts for a throaty and raspy tone in his mix, often stylistic, but even when attempting notes with more vocal cord connection and less airiness, he still tends to use a lot of tension from his throat to push the notes out and project. Throughout his whole range, there’s a tendency for Niel to place his voice in his nose, but when belting he tends to ease up on the nasality and allow more openness, but often resulting in a whiny yelled sound sung with no support and a high larynx. Examples include the E4’s in “Date” and “몰라“, the F4’s in “내 마음의 보석상“, “니가 있어야 할 곳” and “둥지“, the F#4’s in “No No No“, the G4’s in “청바지 아가씨“, “모두 잠든 후에” and “짠짜라“, the G#4’s in “다짐” and “누이“, the A4’s in “쿨하지못해 미안해“, “Angel” and “환희“, and the Bb4 in “Honey“.
His falsetto is the least explored and used part of his voice. He often sings with airiness in his voice, but in his upper register the airiness is such that it causes him to lose the control of his voice. The airiness usually causes him to sound thinned out and the contrast of sound from his mixed voice to his upper register becomes very noticeable. There’s a drop in volume, as well as an inability to stay stable and in pitch. His transitions aren’t often inaccurate, but just lack connection. He’s unable to use a true head voice or connect his vocal cords properly in his upper register, and thus has no support in his upper register, such as in “널 그리며“, “울어 (Cry)“, “못된 여자” and “The Way You Make Me Feel“. Nevertheless, he’s able to still carry a lot of tone up when pushing more air into his vocal cords and has an extensive range in his falsetto, being able to hit a Soprano C, C6 and even D6.
The biggest issue with Niel’s technique lies in his inability to sing with his true voice. The way he sings currently is mostly driven by an influence of many artists, but the one that sticks out the most is the late Michael Jackson. Niel’s attempt at emulating his vocal style is so extreme, that he causes a lot of throat, jaw and tongue tension to be present throughout his range. He mostly sings with disconnected vocal cords and raspiness in present throughout his range, as well as a tight constricted sound in his throat, all of which result in him singing with a high larynx throughout a considerable portion of his range. All this tension is often avoided when he sings with less raspiness and allows his true tone to appear, shown rarely in occasions such as in “4 Minutes” and “뭐라고 딱 꼬집어 얘기할 수 없어요“. Even then, true support still isn’t completely present and due to the excessive bad habit of trying to sound like someone else, he never truly explores his true potential and sounds like two completely different people. The scale from the bottom to the top of his range is uneven caused by the stylistic choices he makes in his singing.
As a performer, Niel is a strong dancer and a charismatic artist. He always delivers powerful performances and uses his Michael Jackson influence very well. However due to the lack of originality in his style, Niel is unable to show his true self and has yet to discover who he is, as opposed to trying to be what someone else was. For future improvements and for a long lasting career, working on finding true breath support and working on the basics of singing would help him improve his overall singing to a greater level of technical skill. Due to his young age, it’s very common for an artist to still be finding himself musically and if he wishes to sing for the rest of his life, finding his true voice will help him avoid damaging his instrument and vocal cords to an irreversible state.
Musically, Niel has a decent ear for pitch but his performances generally are more focused on the overall showmanship more so than his vocals. He tends to favor strong dance routines as opposed to showing off his vocals or range. Therefore, it’s very rare or almost impossible to find performances in which Niel adds his own different melodic changes to sings, since most of his focus goes into the performance aspect and not as much on the singing aspect.
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)